The BG's are back on top of the Trent Alumni Slo-Pitch League after a convincing victory over last year's champs, the storied Roadkill. After losing 9-3 to Roadkill in last year's tournament finals, the BG's cranked it up a notch and exacted a painful 34-13 revenge to take the league championships.
Over 150 participants, along with family and friends, gathered at the old Trent University baseball diamond for the annual Trent Alumni and Staff Slo-Pitch League tournament this past Saturday. The age-old tournament is a culmination of the 15-week regular season and acts as the league playoffs.
It was the last game to be played at the old diamond -- with the league moving to a field specially created for the Alumni League.
"The vibe this year was absolutely fantastic," said league convenor (and team Misfit player) Sue DiFrancesco. "Very communal, with lots of laughs and lots of sharing. Also, with lots of kids! We get more kids out every year."
It was a special bittersweet year for the Misfits, who's founding teammate and eventual coach, Bruce Shearer, passed away earlier in the season. The Misfits dedicated the tournament -- and the after-party -- to their dear friend.
Shearer was a beloved member of both the league and the University community, working as a porter at Otonabee College from 1975 until his retirement.
"Bruce's spirit was shining on us Saturday while we ate, drank and lost in the semi's," noted DiFrancesco. "We lasted til 2am -- he would have been proud! In our hearts forever."
Long-time league player, Jack Roe, produced a wonderful piece on the league in the Winter 2014 edition of Trent Magazine. As has become post-championship tradition, we’re re-printing it in its entirety.
Trent Slo-Pitch League: A Hidden Gem
By Jack Roe ‘73
It’s probably one of Trent’s best-kept secrets: the softball diamond located on Pioneer Road, an outfielder’s throw from the entrance to Peter Gzowski College. It’s home to the Trent Alumni and Staff Slo-Pitch League. It has been there, nestled up against the Wildlife Sanctuary, for 40 years or so, not long after Champlain College first opened its doors to undergrads. If you were to close your eyes and think of a sandlot where kids gather on a summer’s night to play workups until the sun drops below the trees, you’d have a pretty good image of what our beloved little homeaway-from-home looks like—more importantly, what it feels like.
The backstop is a wooden-framed structure. Until a couple of years ago when a major summer storm broke its decades-old back, the entire edifice was covered in ivy. What did survive that mid-summer blast was the root of the ivy plant itself. Last summer, a volunteer crew made up of members from various teams spent a weekend building a new wooden backstop in keeping with our dearly-departed old friend. This summer the ivy boldly crept up the first-base side of the backstop, as if to announce to the world it had, indeed, weathered the storm.
Each summer from mid-May until late in August, more than 150 alumni, staff, and faculty show up on a weekly basis in their brightly coloured, and sometimes cleverly silk-screened, team jerseys. The eight squads have some wonderful, whimsical names: The Misfits, The Bio-Hazards, The Ground Zeros … and everybody’s favourite, The Black Plague. I happen to play for the Alumni Classics. I know, it’s not a very creative handle, but we, too, have an illustrious past (and present). But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There are some age-old rivalries, perhaps the most entrenched of which is the Plague vs. the Classics. Members of both teams look forward to the twiceyearly encounters, much like you would a class reunion: you’re happy to see old friends, but you secretly hope you’ll come out on top once the party’s over.
That brings me to the crux of this story ... Ron Wilson ’64, a retired elementary school teacher. Mr. Wilson, as he is respectfully known by friend and foe alike, just celebrated his 75th birthday last season, though to look at him and to watch him play (he’s still one of the most revered batters in the league —and a damn fine pitcher to boot), you’d never guess his age. Over the 40 years Mr. Wilson has played for the Classics, he has broken several bones and shed not a small amount of blood on the field of battle. He once separated his collarbone in a diving catch in the outfield, but refused to sit on the bench, choosing instead to finish the game, much to his wife’s chagrin.
In mid-July last year, as we were preparing for our second tilt of the season with our arch enemies (read: favourite foes) The Black Plague, I got a call from their majordomo, Leigh “Moose” Mellow ’80, wanting to ensure that when we met the following week, Mr. Wilson was going to be present on the diamond. The Plague had a special presentation to make, he said. And so, in the heat of a glorious mid-summer’s Tuesday evening ahead of the contest to come, The Black Plague and The Classics gathered on the mound where a light-hearted, but heart-felt ceremony was held, and a hand-hewn trophy was presented to Ron Wilson for his 40 years of continuous, gentlemanly play in the league we have all come to love.
As with most leagues, ours reaches an autumnal climax: Tournament Day—the Saturday before Labour Day weekend. Chalked lines to define the foul lines and out-of-play territory plus an official slow-pitch umpire magically appear. It’s a festive atmosphere where teams, their families, and fans claim territory around the field, setting up tents, banners, barbeques, and lawn chairs.
Game on! Each team has two chances that day to make the semi-finals and the eventual championship game. And as quickly as it begins, it’s over, and one lucky squad leaves that evening with the coveted trophy, and the right to boast of their achievement until the following May.
I was always taught to win with grace and lose with dignity. Somehow, this summer sanctuary embodies that sentiment, where balls and strikes are forgotten amidst the laughter of decades-old jokes shared amongst friends and friendly rivals. How lucky we are to be part of these glorious, comfortable gatherings on our diamond every summer. Pass the Advil, Mr. Wilson! Another storied season is just around the corner.